Schools increasing their fees this year may do so again next year provided they have the approval of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), officials have clarified. The new School Fees Framework is a long-term structure which will govern the size of fee hikes schools can ask of the KHDA. Schools may seek to increase their fees annually if they are eligible to do so in accordance with the set criteria, officials said. The eligibility to increase fees will be based on the quality of education provided by schools as judged during inspections conducted by KHDA, in addition to an Educational Cost Index (ECI) devised by the Dubai Statistics Centre. Schools rated as outstanding in the inspections will be allowed to hike fees by 6 per cent this academic year, while schools rated good will be allowed to impose a hike of 4.5 per cent, while schools deemed satisfactory and unsatisfactory will be allowed the lowest hike of 3 per cent. According to the framework, some schools may be granted special permission by KHDA for fee hikes higher than 6 per cent. Schools eligible for such considerations are not-for-profit and embassy schools and those investing in infrastructure that would lead to improvements in quality and directly benefit students academically. Special needs schools will also be given consideration under this category. If a school is granted such special permission one year, then it will not be able to apply for fee hikes for the next three years, officials said. For the past two years school fees in Dubai had been frozen following a government decision but for a few institutions that obtained Ministry of Education approval to hike fees. Earlier, following the first round of school inspections in 2008-2009, fees were linked to inspection ratings with outstanding schools being allowed to raise fees by up to 16 per cent.